Virginia roadways are getting a little safer thanks to a new program from the Virginia LTAP’s Safety Circuit Rider Program at the University of Virginia. This new program, called the Road Safety Champion program, is a certificate program designed to improve the safety training of those responsible for operating, maintaining, designing, and enforcing local roads. The program enrolled its first group of professionals in 2021. Students included city and design engineers, an engineering technician, safety program managers, and a construction inspector. This group spent months completing 14 classes, both online and in person, and in early 2022 six of them became the first group to receive their Road Safety Champion Program certificates.
Walt Catlett, Safety Circuit Rider Program manager, explained the benefits of becoming a Road Safety Candidate. “These are small group classes – just 6 or 10 people – from different professions, different skill sets and different parts of the Commonwealth, but all involved in road safety. The opportunity to share lessons with others in the field is one of the best parts. We’ve had department heads take the classes to see if it was of value and become very excited about it for their other employees and the difference it can make in their communities.”
To offer this program, the Virginia LTAP leveraged its expertise in providing training around the Commonwealth and country and partnered with the National Center for Rural Road Safety. The two groups started developing curriculum in March 2021 and came up with a plan to deliver most of the content online in a hybrid interactive format, plus added 2 in-person classes which Virginia LTAP developed specifically for the program. In all, students must complete 14 modules, including seven in core topics and seven in specialized safety issues. The specialized courses include two tracks to choose from, Planning & Engineering and Maintenance and Construction. Generally, it takes students 3 months to complete all the classes. The program is open to staff from transportation, public health, and law enforcement agencies who have an interest in or responsibility for roadway safety issues.
The hybrid online format means half-day classes are offered that alternate live informational lectures with interactive exercises, discussion, polls, and quizzes. The environment is focused entirely on the needs of a professional adult learner who has specific learning goals, a wealth of professional experience, and little time to spend commuting to a class. The hybrid online classes are working: one student said, “It far exceeded my expectations for online training” and another praised “the sharing of knowledge between other professionals including those from very different size communities.”
A second cycle of the certificate program has already started with 42 students enrolled! The Virginia LTAP’s Safety Circuit Rider program is housed at UVA’s Center for Transportation Studies. Funding for the Road Safety Champion Program is provided by the Federal Highway Administration. More information about the Road Safety Champion Program can be found at the following link: